I am a wife and a mother to a beautiful baby boy. I am an avid animal lover, with an extreme affection for rescue dogs. I have a Master’s degree in Educational Psychology and a love for studying early childhood development. However, most of what I know I have thrown out the window since becoming a mom (haha). I have worked as a behaviour therapist for Autistic children and as a research coordinator. Running is my therapy, Country Music is my jam, my dogs make me happy, my family and friends mean everything to me, and my son makes my life complete.
It takes a village to raise a child. As cliché as it sounds it is the truth! It takes a village to support you and your child, to help educate, parent and love your child, to help keep you and your child safe and healthy. If you don’t have that immediate “village” around you to help, it can cause a sense of isolation, anxiety, and make parenting that much more challenging.
My husband and I moved to Saskatoon two years ago, before we had a child. At that time, I was excited about our new journey. We loved the city of Saskatoon, and with it being only a couple of hours from Regina – where my family is from – or Wynyard – where my husband’s family is from – it didn’t seem like that big of a move. Then we had a baby…
I am not the type of person to ask for help or let my emotions show. I have always dealt with things internally, got through many challenging times on my own, and have been independent. So when it came time to bring our baby home I handled things the same way.
Becoming a first time Mom and taking care of a tiny little human is like nothing you can ever plan for – emotionally, mentally, and physically – or handle on your own. My husband and I brought our bundle of joy home and were beyond excited! I tried to make it appear like I had it together, like I knew what I was doing, but really I had no clue and it caused immense anxiety.
The first few weeks were the hardest. With our families living hours away, with only my sister-in-law to readily help us, it was overwhelming. I remember my sister telling me that my parents thought I didn’t need help because they thought I had it under control and was doing well. Of course they did because every time I would talk to them I explicitly said I was fine, and that everything was going well. I always wore a smile on my face and never let anyone see the tears or hear the anxiety. I was putting on a façade so it was my own fault that I wasn’t getting the help. I know that if I would have asked for help, both of our families would have been there in a second to, but I didn’t ask so I didn’t receive. I guess I didn’t want to appear like I couldn’t handle the job of being a Mother or make it seem like I wasn’t happy to have this beautiful baby boy because neither could be further from the truth!
My poor husband bared the brunt of my anxiety, stress, frustration, and crying, all because I didn’t ask for help! He would come home from work and I would be in tears because I was overwhelmed, needed a break, had not eaten all day, hadn’t showered, barely went to the bathroom or put my child down. He tried his best to understand what I was feeling and helped out as much as he could. During the evenings he would take our son so that I could have a break, but it wasn’t the nights that were bad, it was the long days alone and the feeling I had of isolation. I wouldn’t leave the house during the day because I was too anxious to, and it was just a hassle and hard to do on my own with all the things that a baby needed. All my friends were in Regina, or living in a different province, I had no adult social time or a release of any kind. I didn’t tell anyone about how I was feeling, I just kept acting like everything was great! Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t horrible all the time. I truly love being a mom, and my son’s smile truly makes everything better, and now that he is 10 months old I no longer feel this way.
For so many reasons not having family or friends around is difficult when you have a child. In the early weeks, it would have been so nice to have family around to make a meal for me, or clean up the piling dishes, or simply to allow me to take a nap. As for now, if we have something to go to, without advance notice to arrange for a family member to come to Saskatoon, my husband and I cannot go together because one of us has to stay home with our son. Yes, we could get a babysitter, but I have yet to find one I trust and my son still does not take a bottle. If I just need a break, I don’t have the luxury of dropping our child off at Grandma and Grandpa’s. If I have an appointment to go to, I have to bring our son along which results in a screaming baby who just wants to be held but Mom can’t hold him when a Doctor is examining her! My sister-in-law does help us out a TON, but I hate asking her all the time to watch him because she is our only person here in Saskatoon and I don’t want to wear out my “Aunty Babysitting card”.
I know a lot of people go through the same things I went through, feel the same way, and don’t have family or friends around for support. I know I am not the only one. Yes, if you have a spouse, they are there to help you parent as well, but they too need a break at times! For all those single-parents or parents of multiples who don’t have a support system, I applaud you, and hope that you reach out to a Mom and Baby group to help build a support system or find someone you trust that can look after your little’s so you can have a break. Those who have family and friends around to help in raising your child, don’t take them for granted!
It takes a village to raise a child. It takes family to help you through the challenging times, to help shower your child with love, and instill good values. It takes friends to be there to support you, to be a social outlet, and to help get you out of an isolated house. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can’t do it alone. We all need help at times.